Our departure from Edmonton began with a chaperones-and-bus-drivers-ONLY-Tim-Hortons-stop (which meant anyone over the age of 14 was impressed, those under….well…not SO MUCH). It made a big difference for the adults though (as in, we woke up and interacted with our charges rather than just existing in the same hemisphere as them…).
The drive to Hinton was quiet (except for some snoring….).
In Hinton, we stopped at Safeway to get lunch for the kids and groceries for the next two days (breakfast at the Rec Centre and bonfire-lunch at the horse stables). Lunch was assorted items of no nutritional value (Honest. To. Goodness.). James and Connor gave me the gears when they let me know that I was RESPONSIBLE for RUINING their healthy-eating streak. APPARENTLY on Day 3, they bought a healthy lunch in Lloydminster (ummm….sweet potato CHIPS) BUT then when they went to buy lunch in Hinton, I told them to buy “something healthy and something fun”. Once they purchased their items, they walked by me and said, “Way to go, you ruined our healthy eating streak (ummmm, it was one day!) because you told us to buy something fun.”. (I. Can’t. Win.)
Blog post competitions to represent the Safeway stop in an exciting manner resulted in no effort at all (they’ve got only enough energy to walk upright….). I literally saw a student eating an ice cream and it was dripping profusely down her sweater. She glanced at it and then continued to eat (eyes may have been glazed over…). Don’t worry, though, Aubrey has great friends to clean her up!
Our Jasper experience began with a stop at the Miette Hot Springs. There’s two cold pools and two warm/hot pools here – the kids went between these pools with a bravado only matched by participating in a Dodgeball game with their peers….The cold pool is REALLY cold and UNCOMFORTABLE and I’m happy to say that noone had the blue-lip syndrome! At the Miette Hot Springs, they were also really, really impressed with the mountain goats (sheep?, not sure what they were!). They typically hang out in the parking lot waiting on new vehicles to arrive so they can lick the exhaust pipes (weird, I know!).
Slushies were on tap at the gift shop so most of them sugared up before we left Miette (again with the communal straw!).
Our arrival and settling in at the Rec Centre was another testament to their fine organization and commitment to timeliness and orderliness (first evidence I’ve seen of that this school year!). Girls headed up to the curling lounge while the boys were bunking downstairs in the Arts and Crafts room. It all had to be very quick as our tramway flight times were already booked!
The tramway was AWESOME! Kids loved, loved, loved climbing a mountain (some didn’t like the tram so much!) and KUDOS to the fact that ALL of them were warm enough to enjoy it (we reminded them about a million times to wear sweaters and runners!). Kids took off like a shot up the mountain (I think Bradford was in the lead!). Once up there, Matthew, Kayli and Trisha built an inukshuk and Aubrey, Connor and James phoned home (what better place to call home from than the top of a mountain!). Things got A BIT TENSE (think wringing hands and furrowed brows) when they informed us that we COULDN’T GO DOWN! Apparently, the winds were up (LIKE as in THE SNOW WAS GOING SIDEWAYS!) and we had to wait out the weather. I was a little stressed we’d have to spend the night because heaven knows these kids need their toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant! Luckily, though, it was just a bit of a wait and then we were good to go (imagine trying to put those kids back on the tram after the guide had said, “it’s not safe to go down….”).
From the tram, it was off to supper in chaperone groups (where three of four of us ended up at the same restaurant anyway!). Josee and her girls enjoyed a wonderful Italian supper that her daughter (Rebecca) had enjoyed on her trip! Speaking of that, there have been many instances where kids have said to us, “This was so-and-so’s favorite part of the trip.” or “My brother told me about this.” and even Jakob who took guided us to a great restaurant in Jasper where his family had eaten on a previous trip (the amazing menu and great atmosphere of this restaurant was vetoed by the group in favour of pizza, but we at least looked in the window….sigh).
The group ended their evening with a game of mantracker on the school playground next to the Recreation Centre – what a setting for this game, in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains. They came back in the centre with huge grins, laughing and giggling about their game and time in Jasper.
Such a sweet moment. Which I ruined. And boy were they NOT impressed. I advised the group that showers weren’t allowed to the next day, WHICH APPARENTLY was a super-mean thing to do (except for the ones who haven’t been showering, they were like “Meh, whatever!”). 🙂
Girls held a dance party in the Curling Lounge which I’m hearing had some judging issues (poor Allyssa, she really was in a bind!). Rumour has it that Aubrey held her own against a team of Instep dancers – I’d have to see that to believe it! Lots of giggles and fun as they enjoyed all the girls being in the same room. Downstairs, I think they were playing a real-life version of this game they’ve been playing on their phones (Slitherio or something…). Basically, they were just ROLLING AROUND ON THE FLOOR. Apparently, the boys were in their sleeping bags and they would try to capture their peers who were also cleaning up the floor with their sleeping bags also. It sounds like SO. MUCH. FUN.
Lights out and phones charging, they were soon asleep (which would have been good had all three female chaperones not been WIDE AWAKE!). In the boys room, I’m hearing someone’s alarm went off in the middle of the night (was that you Sydney?) which according to the boys was a MAJOR FAUX PAS (they were circling him like wolves do as they approach prey….).
Sunday morning started with horseback riding (we LOVE Jasper Park Riding Stables). The staff here must be second to none (because they’re absolutely perfect!). This has long-been one of the favourite excursions for our kids. Ms. From organized some groups to head out with the cowboys and cowgirls while I prepared my “photo spot” (I have also now learned that you can substantially spook a horse and its accompanying rider when you are partially hidden behind a tree….).
Enroute to the stables, kids were lucky to see a momma elk with her baby saunter across the road into the forest. The female elk paused kindly for our students to take photos (what a nice elk!), while she posed her baby took the opportunity provided to have a little milk drink (you know what I mean by this, right)? I was just enjoying the serenity of this nature-at-its-purest moment, when I heard Riley from the back, “oiy, that looks like it hurts…”. (I’m seriously not making this stuff up!).
Upon return from the horseback ride, Mr. Renner got the bonfire going and prepped all the food for consumption (again, think wolves circling around their prey…). Hotdogs, hamburgers, chips and smores were the menu items (with some partaking in A LOT of food….). Myself, I was all about that cheeseburger and fairly hugged the poor kid who cooked it for me (sorry James!).
After saying goodbye to their horses (and taking a million photos!), they were back on the bus. In the front seat, Lori (our second driver) and Josee were comparing their FITBIT counts. Apparently, APPARENTLY they were counting steps WHILE HORSEBACK RIDING! Ms. From and I have taken EXCEPTIONAL EXCEPTION to this and haven’t let them hear the end of it! Cheaters. Horseriding cheaters.
Smelling like the stables and a bonfire, it was off to the laundromat (where people promptly left as soon as they saw us coming!). We had to learn about laundromat etiquette when (out of the corner of our eyes) we saw someone glaring and muttering about us. Sooooo, I thought if you wanted a machine, you put your bag in front/on top of it to “claim it”. Good thing, Mr. Renner did some PR with this individual to redeem us (I think I overheard him say, “Those ladies don’t have a clue what they’re doing!”).
Speaking of Mr. Renner, he’s been on point with the coffee runs (and why wouldn’t he be, he gets up IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!). On Saturday, he arrived with a tray of coffee from the Bear Paw Bakery which he handed to us. This was fab, but when he handed us the WHITE CHOCOLATE SCONES, we canonized him and his name was changed to “Saint David”. This morning, he showed up with four different selections – each one individually matched to our personalities!
After laundry and free time, we were off to Maligne Canyon where the kids hiked a couple of kilometres (mostly downhill, but they still complained!) through the most majestic canyon you can imagine! Kids took lots of selfies to improve this majestic view (sigh…) and just generally enjoyed the time in our great Canadian land.
Evening chatter included a recap of the shower situation. Honest. To. Goodness. I was dying when I heard the boys talking about how they had to shower in a communal shower. Apparently, APPARENTLY this was their first experience with this and it was none-too-comfortable. I was on the floor laughing my head off! when Zac said (please imagine it in his tone of voice), “I just shut my eyes the whole time….”.
With a curfew of 10, they were back in to the Rec Centre (and many were into the shower like nobody’s business!) and soon into bed. Josee and Jen came up with a “get these girls sleeping by 11” plan that was the cat’s meow. Not sure what happened downstairs because (a) that’s Dave’s show and (b) I was sound asleep!
Turning East soon, going to be a bittersweet moment. These kids are so SO good! When we left Jasper Park Riding Stables, they told us, “your kids were really great. They’re so attentive and polite. Lots of good manners!” (Ok. What?)
Which goes to show all their mature behaviour must be accredited to the experiences they’re having, because one kid told me yesterday, “I’ve learned more on this trip than I have my whole school year….”.
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